In the beginning, American AA members holidaying on the Riviera in the 60s and 70s held impromptu meetings on beaches and in hotel lobbies on the seafront of Cannes. It was from these fledgling beginnings that AA spread to the towns and cities along the coast. In 1978, Cannes became the venue for the first official AA meeting on the Côte d’Azur. The meeting was held in a church hall just behind the Carlton Hotel. That meeting had its troubles—it closed, it re-opened—but was finally established in 1986. In Nice, in December 1983, a bi-lingual Frenchman and two Americans started what was once the longest continuous running AA meeting on the coast. In 1987, an expat member who’d some months earlier started the first-ever AA meeting in Monaco in any language, went looking for a more suitable meeting room. “That’s a coincidence,” said the priest from a local Monaco church. “We pray for a particular cause each year, and this year it’s for alcoholics.” In those early days, French AA, already well established in the area, provided us with our first English-language telephone service in 1988. They also helped us get our first meeting lists printed (by prisoners, inside the local prison, who produced a folded card design). New meetings emerged in Saint-Tropez in the 80s, Antibes in February 1990, Valbonne in November 1991, and Aix-en-Provence in 1993.
New meetings also formed in Vence and Nice in 2004. Today there’s even a meeting in Montpellier, 330 km from Nice. Whether on the Riviera beaches, in hotel lobbies, or the basement rooms of local churches and other rented rooms, day after day AA in the south of France has grown from those impromptu summer meetings to its present 30 meetings-per-week Fellowship..